• IMO Classes for Dangerous Goods

    The Carriage of dangerous goods and marine pollutants in sea-going ships is respectively regulated in the International Convention for the Safety of the Life at Sea (SOLAS) and the International Convention for the Prevention of pollution from Ships (MARPOL).

    Relevant parts of both SOLAS and MARPOL have been worked out in great detail and are included in the International Maritime Dangerous Goods

    (IMDG) Code, thus making this Code the legal instrument for maritime transport of dangerous goods and marine pollutants. As of 1st January 2004, the IMDG Code will become a mandatory requirement.

    Classification of dangerous goods

    The International Seafarers Committee has developed the classification of dangerous goods for all modes of transport (sea, air, rail, road, and river).

  • Class 1: Explosives.

    Subclass 1.1

    Subclass 1.1

    Consists of explosives that have a mass explosion hazard. A mass explosion is one which affects almost the entire load instantaneously.

    Subclass 1.2

    Subclass 1.2

    Consists of explosives that have a projection hazard but not a mass explosion hazard.

    Subclass 1.3

    Subclass 1.3

    Consists of explosives that have a fire hazard and either a minor blast hazard or a minor projection hazard or, both but not a mass explosion hazard.

    Subclass 1.4

    Subclass 1.4

    Consists of explosives that present a minor explosion hazard. The explosive effects are largely confined to the package and no projection of fragments of appreciable size or range is to be expected. An external fire must not cause virtually instantaneous explosion of almost the entire contents of the package.

    Subclass 1.5

    Subclass 1.5

    Consists of very insensitive explosives. This division is comprised of substances which have a mass explosion hazard but are so insensitive that there is very little probability of initiation or of transition from burning to detonation under normal conditions of transport

    Subclass 1.6

    Subclass 1.6

    Consists of extremely insensitive articles which do not have a mass explosive hazard. This division is comprised of articles which contain only extremely insensitive detonating substances and which demonstrate a negligible probability of accidental initiation or propagation

  • Class 2: Gases.

    Subclass 2.1

    Subclass 2.1 - Flammable Gas

    454 kg (1001 lbs) of any material which is a gas at 20°C (68°F) or less and 101.3 kPa (14.7 psi) of pressure (a material which has a boiling point of 20°C (68°F) or less at 101.3 kPa (14.7 psi)) which:

    1. Is ignitable at 101.3 kPa (14.7 psi) when in a mixture of 13 percent or less by volume with air; or

    2. Has a flammable range at 101.3 kPa (14.7 psi) with air of at least 12 percent regardless of the lower limit.

    Subclass 2.2

    Subclass 2.2 - Non-flammable, Non-poisonus Gas

    This division includes compressed gas, liquefied gas, pressurized cryogenic gas, compressed gas in solution, asphyxiant gas and oxidizing gas. A non-flammable, nonpoisonous compressed gas (Division 2.2) means any material (or mixture) which:

    1. Exerts in the packaging an absolute pressure of 280 kPa (40.6 psia) or greater at 20°C (68°F), and

    2. Does not meet the definition of Division 2.1 or 2.3.

    Subclass 2.2

    Subclass 2.2 - Oxygen Gas

    This is an optional placard to the 2.2 Non-flammable Gas placard for compressed Oxygen in either the gas or liquid state. Oxygen is considered a non-flammable because it in and of itself does not burn. It is, however, required for combustion to take place. High concentrations of oxygen greatly increases the rate and intensity of combustion.

    Subclass 2.3

    Subclass 2.3 - Poison Gas

    Gas poisonous by inhalation means a material which is a gas at 20°C or less and a pressure of 101.3 kPa (a material which has a boiling point of 20°C or less at 101.3kPa (14.7 psi)) and which:

    1. is known to be so toxic to humans as to pose a hazard to health during transportation, or

    2. in the absence f adequate data on human toxicity, is presumed to be toxic to humans because when tested on laboratory animals it has an LC50 value of not more than 5000 ml/m³.

  • Class 3: Flammable Liquids.

    Class 3

    Flammable Liquid

    A flammable liquid (Class 3) means a liquid having a flash point of not more than 60.5°C (141°F), or any material in a liquid phase with a flash point at or above 37.8°C (100°F) that is intentionally heated and offered for transportation or transported at or above its flash point in a bulk packaging, with the following exceptions:

    1. Any liquid meeting one of the definitions specified in 49CFR 173.115.

    2. Any mixture having one or more components with a flash point of 60.5°C (141°F) or higher, that make up at least 99 percent of the total volume of the mixture, if the mixture is not offered for transportation or transported at or above its flash point.

    3. Any liquid with a flash point greater than 35°C (95°F) which does not sustain combustion according to ASTM 4206 or the procedure in Appendix H of this part.

    4. Any liquid with a flash point greater than 35°C (95°F) and with a fire point greater than 100°C (212°F) according to ISO 2592.

    5. Any liquid with a flash point greater than 35°C (95°F) which is in a water-miscible solution with a water content of more than 90 percent by mass.

  • Class 4.1: Flammable Solids or Substances.

    Class 4.1

    Flammable Solids or Substances

    Desensitized explosives that when dry are explosives of Class 1 and are specifically authorized by name or have been assigned a shipping name and hazard class by the Associate Administrator.

    Self-reactive materials,which are thermally unstable and that can undergo a strongly exothermic decomposition even without participation of air.

    Readily combustible solids that can cause a fire through friction and show a burning rate faster than 2.2 mm (0.087 inches) per second, or metal powders that can be ignited and react over the whole length of a sample in 10 minutes or less.

  • Class 4.2: Flammable solids.

    Class 4.2

    Flammable Solids

    Spontaneously Combustible material is a pyrophoric material, which is a liquid or solid that can ignite within five (5) minutes after coming in contact with air or a self-heating material that when in contact with air and without an energy supply is liable to self-heat.

  • Class 4.3: Substances which, in contact with water, emit flammable gases.

    Class 4.3

    Substances which, in contact with water, emit flammable gases

    Dangerous When Wet material is a material that when it makes contact with water is liable to become spontaneously flammable or give off flammable or toxic gas at a rate greater than 1 L per kilogram of the material per hour.

  • Class 5.1: Oxidizing substances (agents) by yielding oxygen increase the risk and intensity of fire.

    Class 5.1

    Oxidizing substances (agents) by yielding oxygen increase the risk and intensity of fire

    Oxidizer (Division 5.1) means a material that may, generally by yielding oxygen, cause or enhance the combustion of other materials.

    1. A solid material is classed as a Division 5.1 material if, when tested in accordance with the UN Manual of Tests and Criteria, its mean burning time is less than or equal to the burning time of a 3:7 potassium bromate/cellulose mixture.

    2. A liquid material is classed as a Division 5.1 material if, when tested in accordance with the UN Manual of Tests and Criteria, it spontaneously ignites or its mean time for a pressure rise from 690 kPa to 2070 kPa gauge is less then the time of a 1:1 nitric acid (65 percent)/cellulose mixture.

  • Class 5.2: Organic peroxides - most will burn rapidly and are sensitive to impact or friction.

    Class 5.2

    Organic peroxides - most will burn rapidly and are sensitive to impact or friction

    Organic peroxide (Division 5.2) means any organic compound containing oxygen (O) in the bivalent -O-O- structure and which may be considered a derivative of hydrogen peroxide, where one or more of the hydrogen atoms have been replaced by organic radicals, unless any of the following paragraphs applies:

    1. The material meets the definition of an explosive as prescribed in subpart C of this part, in which case it must be classed as an explosive;

    2. The material is forbidden from being offered for transportation according to 49CFR 172.101 of this subchapter or 49CFR 173.21;

    3. The Associate Administrator for Hazardous Materials Safety has determined that the material does not present a hazard which is associated with a Division 5.2 material; or

    4. The material meets one of the following conditions:

    1. For materials containing no more than 1.0 percent hydrogen peroxide, the available oxygen, as calculated using the equation in paragraph (a)(4)(ii) of this section, is not more than 1.0 percent, or

    2. For materials containing more than 1.0 percent but not more than 7.0 percent hydrogen peroxide

  • Class 6.1: Toxic substances.

    Class 6.1

    Toxic, poison substances

    Known to be toxic to humans so as to afford a hazard to health during transportation or is presumed to be toxic to humans because it falls within a toxic category when tested on laboratory animals.

    An irritating material such as tear gas that causes extreme irritation, especially in confined spaces.

  • Class 6.2: Infectious substances.

    Class 6.2

    Infectious Substance material is known to contain or suspected of containing a pathogen Definitions

    For the purposes of these Regulations: Infectious substances are substances which are known or are reasonably expected to contain pathogens. Pathogens are defined as micro-organisms (including bacteria, viruses, rickettsiae, parasites, fungi) and other agents such as prions, which can cause disease in

    humans or animals.

    Note: Toxins from plant, animal or bacterial sources which do not contain any infectious substances or toxins that are not contained in substances which are infectious substances should be considered for classification in Division 6.1 and assigned to UN3172. Biological products are those products derived from living organisms which are manufactured and distributed in accordance with the requirements of appropriate national authorities, which may have special licensing requirements, and are used either for prevention, treatment, or diagnosis of disease in humans or animals, or for development, experimental or investigational purposes related thereto. They include, but are not limited to, finished or unfinished products such as vaccines. Cultures are the result of a process by which pathogens are intentionally. This definition does not include patient specimens as defined in Patient specimens are those collected directly from humans or animals, including, but not limited to, excreta, secreta, blood and its components, tissue and tissue fluid swabs, and body parts being transported for purposes such as research, diagnosis, investigational activities, disease treatment and prevention. Medical or clinical wastes are wastes derived from the medical treatment of animals or humans or from bio-research. Classification of Infectious Substances Infectious substances must be classified in Division 6.2 and assigned to UN2814, UN2900, UN 3291 or UN3373, as appropriate. Infectious substances are divided into the following categories. Category A:

    An infectious substance which is transported in a form that, when exposure to it occurs, is capable of causing permanent disability, life-threatening or fatal disease in otherwise healthy humans or animals. Indicative examples of substances that meet these criteria are given in Table 3.6.D.

    Note: An exposure occurs when an infectious substance is released outside of the protective packaging, resulting in physical contact with humans or animals.

    (a) Infectious substances meeting these criteria which cause disease in humans or both in humans and animals must be assigned to UN 2814. Infectious substances which cause disease only in animals must be assigned to UN 2900.

    (b) Assignment to UN 2814 or UN 2900 must be based on the known medical history and symptoms of the source human or animal, endemic local conditions, or professional judgement concerning individual circumstances of the source human oranimal.


    1. The proper shipping name for UN 2814 is Infectious substance, affecting humans. The proper shipping name for UN 2900 is Infectious substance, affecting animals only.

    2. The following table is not exhaustive. Infectious substances, including new or emerging pathogens, which do not appear in the table, but which meet the same criteria must be assigned to Category A. In addition, if there is doubt as to whether or not a substance meets the criteria it must be included in Category A.

    3. In the following list, the micro-organisms written in italics are bacteria, mycoplasma, rickettsia or fungi.

    Bacillus anthracis (cultures only)

    Infectious substance

    Brucella abortus (cultures only)

    Brucella melitensis (cultures only)

    Brucella suis (cultures only)

    Burkholderia mallei – Pseudomonas mallei – Glanders (cultures only)

    Burkholderia pseudomallei – Pseudomonas pseudomallei (cultures only)

    Chlamydia psittaci – avian strains (cultures only)

    Clostridium botulinum (cultures only)

    Coccidioides immitis (cultures only)

    Coxiella burnetii (cultures only)

    Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus

    Dengue virus (cultures only)

    Eastern equine encephalitis virus (cultures only)

    Escherichia coli, verotoxigenic (cultures only)

    Ebola virus

    Flexal virus

    Francisella tularensis (cultures only)

    Guanarito virus

    Hantaan virus

    Hantavirus causing hemorragic fever with renal syndrome

    Hendra virus

    Hepatitis B virus (cultures only)

    Herpes B virus (cultures only)

    Human immunodeficiency virus (cultures only)

    Highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (cultures only)

    Japanese Encephalitis virus (cultures only)

    Junin virus

    Kyasanur Forest disease virus

    Lassa virus

    Machupo virus

    Marburg virus

    Monkeypox virus

    Mycobacterium tuberculosis (cultures only)

    Nipah virus

    Omsk hemorrhagic fever virus

    Poliovirus (cultures only)

    Rabies virus

    Rickettsia prowazekii (cultures only)

    Rickettsia rickettsii (cultures only)

    Rift Valley fever virus

    Russian spring-summer encephalitis virus (cultures only)

    Sabia virus

    Shigella dysenteriae type 1 (cultures only)

    Tick-borne encephalitis virus (cultures only)

    Variola virus

    Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus

    West Nile virus (cultures only)

    Yellow fever virus (cultures only)

    Yersinia pestis (cultures only)

    African swine fever virus (cultures only)

    Avian paramyxovirus Type 1 – Velogenic Newcastle disease virus (cultures only)

    Classical swine fever virus (cultures only)

    Foot and mouth disease virus (cultures only)

    Goatpox virus (cultures only)

    Lumpy skin disease virus (cultures only)

    Mycoplasma mycoides – Contagious bovine pleuropneumonia(cultures only)

    Peste des petits ruminants virus (cultures only)

    Rinderpest virus (cultures only)

    Sheep-pox virus (cultures only)

    Swine vesicular disease virus (cultures only)

    Vesicular stomatitis virus (cultures only) Category B:

    An infectious substance which does not meet the criteria for inclusion in Category A. Infectious substances in Category B must be assigned to UN 3373.

    Note: The proper shipping name of UN 3373 is Diagnostic specimens or Clinical specimens or Biological substance, category B. On 1 January 2007, it is anticipated that the use of the shipping names Diagnostic specimens and Clinical specimens will no longer be permitted. Exemptions Substances which do not contain infectious substances or substances which are unlikely to cause disease in humans or animals are not subject to these Regulations unless they meet the criteria for inclusion in another class. Substances containing microorganisms which are non-pathogenic to humans or animals are not subject to these Regulations unless they meet the criteria for inclusion in another class. Substances in a form that any present pathogens have been neutralized or inactivated such that they no longer pose a health risk are not subject to these Regulations unless they meet the criteria for inclusion in another class. Environmental samples (including food and water samples) which are not considered to pose a significant risk of infection are not subject to these Regulations unless they meet the criteria for inclusion in another class. Dried blood spots, collected by applying a drop of blood onto absorbent material, or faecal occult blood screening tests and blood or blood components which have been collected for the purposes of transfusion or for the preparation of blood products to be used for transfusion or transplantation and any tissues or organs intended for use in transplantation are not subject to these Regulations. Patient specimens for which there is minimal likelihood that pathogens are present are not subject to these Regulations if the specimen is packed in a packaging which will prevent any leakage and which is marked with the words "Exempt human specimen" or "Exempt animal specimen", as appropriate. The packaging must meet the following conditions:

    (a) The packaging must consist of three components:

    (i) a leak-proof primary receptacle(s);

    (ii) a leak-proof secondary packaging; and

    (iii) an outer packaging of adequate strength for its capacity, mass and intended use, and with at least one surface having minimum dimensions of 100 mm × 100 mm;

    (b) For liquids, absorbent material in sufficient quantity to absorb the entire contents must be

    placed between the primary receptacle(s) and the secondary packaging so that, during transport, any release or leak of a liquid substance will not reach the outer packaging and will not compromise the integrity of the cushioning material;

    (c) When multiple fragile primary receptacles are placed in a single secondary packaging, they must be either individually wrapped or separated to prevent contact between them..

    NOTE: In determining whether a patient specimen has a minimum likelihood that pathogens are present, an element of professional judgment is required to determine if a substance is exempt under this paragraph. That judgment should be based on the known medical history, symptoms and individual circumstances of the source, human or animal, and endemic local conditions.

    Examples of specimens which may be transported under this paragraph include the blood or urine tests to monitor cholesterol levels, blood glucose levels, hormone levels, or prostate specific antigens (PSA); those required to monitor organ function such as heart, liver or kidney function for humans or animals with non-infectious diseases, or therapeutic drug monitoring; those conducted for insurance or employment purposes and are intended to determine the presence of drugs or alcohol; pregnancy test; biopsies to detect cancer; and antibody detection in humans or animals. Biological Products For the purposes of these Regulations, biological products are divided into the following groups:

    (a) those which are manufactured and packaged in accordance with the requirements of appropriate national authorities and transported for the purposes of final packaging or distribution, and use for personal health care by medical professionals or individuals. Substances in this group are not subject to these Regulations

    (b) those which do not fall under paragraph (a) and are known or reasonably believed to contain infectious substances and which meet the criteria for inclusion in Category A or Category B. Substances in this group must be assigned to UN2814, UN2900 or UN3373, as appropriate.

    Note: Some licensed biological products may present a biohazard only in certain parts of the world. In that case, competent authorities may require these biological products to be in compliance with local requirements for infectious substances or may impose other restrictions. Genetically Modified Micro-organisms and Organisms Genetically modified micro-organisms not meeting the definition of an infectious substance must be classified according to Subsection 3.9. Medical or Clinical Wastes Medical or clinical wastes containing Category A infectious substances must be assigned to UN2814 or UN2900, as appropriate. Medical or clinical wastes containing infectious substances in Category B, must be assigned to UN3291. Medical or clinical wastes which are reasonably believed to have a low probability of containing infectious substances must be assigned to UN3291. Note: The proper shipping name for UN3291 is Clinical waste, unspecified, n.o.s. or (Bio) Medical waste, n.o.s. or Regulated medical waste, n.o.s.. Decontaminated medical or clinical wastes which previously contained infectious substances are not subject to these Regulations unless they meet the criteria for inclusion in another class. Infected Animals A live animal that has been intentionally infected and is known or suspected to contain an infectious substance must not be transported by air unless the infectious substance contained cannot be consigned by any other means. Infected animals may only be transported under terms and conditions approved by the appropriate national authority. Unless an infectious substance cannot be consigned by any other means, live animals must not be used to consign such a substance. Animal carcasses affected by pathogens of category A or which would be assigned to category A in cultures only, must be assigned to UN 2814 or UN 2900 as appropriate. Other animal carcasses affected by pathogens included in Category B must be transported in accordance with provisions determined by the competent authority. Patient Specimens Patient specimens must be assigned to UN 2814, UN 2900 or UN 3373 as appropriate except if they comply with

  • Class 7: Radioactive Substances.

    Class 7


    Any quantity of packages bearing the RADIOACTIVE YELLOW III label (LSA-III). Some radioactive materials in "exclusive use" with low specific activity radioactive materials will not bear the label, however, the RADIOACTIVE placard is required.

    Closed transport vehicle means a transport vehicle or conveyance equipped with a securely attached exterior enclosure that during normal transportation restricts the access of unauthorized persons to the cargo space containing the Class 7 (radioactive) materials. The enclosure may be either temporary or permanent, and in the case of packaged materials may be of the "see-through" type, and must limit access from top, sides, and bottom.

    Containment system means the assembly of components of the packaging intended to retain the radioactive contents during transportation.

    Conveyance means:

    1. For transport by public highway or rail: any transport vehicle or large freight container;

    2. For transport by water: any vessel, or any hold, compartment, or defined deck area of a vessel including any transport vehicle on board the vessel; and

    3. For transport by aircraft, any aircraft.

    Design means the description of a special form Class 7 (radioactive) material, a package, packaging, or LSA-III, that enables those items to be fully identified. The description may include specifications, engineering drawings, reports showing compliance with regulatory requirements, and other relevant documentation.

    Exclusive use (also referred to in other regulations as "sole use" or "full load") means sole use by a single consignor of a conveyance for which all initial, intermediate, and final loading and unloading are carried out in accordance with the direction of the consignor or consignee. The consignor and the carrier must ensure that any loading or unloading is performed by personnel having radiological training and resources appropriate for safe handling of the consignment. The consignor must issue specific instructions in writing, for maintenance of exclusive use shipment controls, and include them with the shipping paper information provided to the carrier by the consignor.

    Fissile material means plutonium-238, plutonium-239, plutonium-241, uranium-233, uranium-235, or any combination of these radionuclides. The definition does not apply to unirradiated natural uranium and depleted uranium, and natural uranium or depleted uranium that has been irradiated in a thermal reactor. Certain additional exceptions are provided in 49CFR 173.453.

    Fissile material, controlled shipment means any shipment that contains one or more packages that have been assigned, in accordance with 49CFR 173.457, nuclear criticality control transport indices greater than 10.

    Freight container means a reusable container having a volume of 1.81 cubic meters (64 cubic feet) or more, designed and constructed to permit its being lifted with its contents intact and intended primarily for containment of packages in unit form during transportation. A "small freight container" is one which has either one outer dimension less than 1.5 meters (4.9 feet) or an internal volume of not more than 3.0 cubic meters (106 cubic feet). All other freight containers are designated as "large freight containers."

    Highway route controlled quantity means a quantity within a single package which exceeds:

    1. 3,000 times the A1 value of the radionuclides as specified in 49CFR 173.435 for special form Class 7 (radioactive) material;

    2. 3,000 times the A2 value of the radionuclides as specified in 49CFR 173.435 for normal form Class 7 (radioactive) material; or

    3. 1,000 TBq (27,000 Ci), whichever is least.

    Limited quantity of Class 7 (radioactive) material means a quantity of Class 7 (radioactive) material not exceeding the materials package limits specified in 49CFR 173.425 and conforming with requirements specified in 49CFR 173.421.

    Low Specific Activity (LSA) material means Class 7 (radioactive) material with limited specific activity which satisfies the descriptions and limits set forth below. Shielding materials surrounding the LSA material may not be considered in determining the estimated average specific activity of the package contents.

  • Class 8: Corrosives.

    Class 8


    1. For the purpose of this subchapter "corrosive materials" (Class 8) means a liquid or solid that causes full thickness destruction of human skin at the site of contact within a specified period of time. A liquid that has a severe corrosion rate on steel or aluminum is also a corrosive material.

    2. If human experience or other data indicate that the hazard of a material is greater or less than indicated by the results of the tests specified in paragraph (a) of this section, RSPA may revise its classification or make the determination that the material is not subject to the requirements of this subchapter.

    3. Skin corrosion test data produced no later than September 30, 1995, using the procedures of 49CFR 173, Appendix A, in effect on September 30, 1995 (see 49CFR Part 173, Appendix A, revised as of October 1, 1994) for appropriate exposure times may be used for classification and assignment of packing group for Class 8 materials corrosive to skin.

    454 kg (1001 lbs) or more gross weight of a corrosive material. Although the corrosive class includes both acids and bases, the hazardous materials load and segregation chart does not make any reference to the separation of various incompatible corrosive materials from each other. In spite of this, however, when shipping corrosives care should be taken to ensure that incompatible corrosive materials can not become mixed as many corrosives react very violently if mixed. If responding to a transportation incident involving corrosive materials (especially a mixture of corrosives), caution should be exercised.

  • Class 9: Miscellaneous dangerous substances and articles.

    Class 9 Class 9


    A material which presents a hazard during transportation but which does not meet the definition of any other hazard class. This class includes:

    1. Any material which has an anesthetic, noxious or other similar property which could cause extreme annoyance or discomfort to a flight crew member so as to prevent the correct performance of assigned duties; or

    2. Any material for an elevated temperature material, a hazardous substance, a hazardous waste, or a marine pollutant.

A container is a reusable transport equipment designed for container freight shipping to the point of destination by means of road, rail, and water transport.

A container can be reused if its loading and installation have been done correctly. Misuse can lead to it going out of service and damage of the goods. To prevent such situations from happening, every container is given a marking.

The current standard which deals with the coding, identification, and marking of containers is ISO 6346, dated 1996. The standards for international shipping containers are managed by the International Container Bureau (BIC).

A distinction is drawn between compulsory and optional marks. Optional marks can be assigned at the will of the owner for easy recognition of goods.

Compulsory marking must be used on all containers and is applied onto the door and other planes of the container (sidewalls, roof, bottom).

The container identification number consists of the:

  • owner code, consisting of three capital letters;
  • equipment category identifier — one of the capital letters – U, J, or Z;
  • serial number of six numeric digits;
  • check digit of one numeric digit.

The owner code must be unique and registered with the BIC (either directly or through a national representative of the organization).

The letter in the equipment category identifier stands for:

U - freight containers;
J - detachable freight container-related equipment;
Z - trailers and chassis.

The owner code and equipment category identifier can be grouped under one term, also known as an alpha prefix.

container marking

If the owner code is absent, the container cannot be identified.

The registration or serial number consists of six digits. If the number has fewer than six digits, zeros are added in the beginning of the number to make a six-digit number sequence.

The last digit in the container number – the check digit – is always a single-digit number. It is usually placed in a box to single it out from the rest of the numbers in the registration code.

The check digit is used to verify the accuracy of the owner code, the equipment category identifier, and the registration number. If the result number of the automatic checking procedure does not correspond to the number in the check digit – no transport or freight information system will be able to process the container.

The procedure has been introduced to ensure the correctness of input data of the international container shipping information systems.

The checking procedure is as follows: every letter is assigned an equivalent numerical value on the basis of its position in the alphabet, beginning with 10 for the Latin letter A (11 and its multipliers are omitted). The individual digits of the registration number keep their numeric value). Every number is multiplied by 2exponent, where the value of the exponent corresponds to the position of the digit in the registration number from 0 to 9, left to right (the first digit is multiplied by 1, the second – by 2, the third – by 4, the fourth – by 8, the fifth – by 16, the sixth – by 32, the seventh – by 64, the eighth – by 64, the ninth – by 256, and the tenth – by 512). The results are summed up, after that, divided by 11, and rounded down to zero (made a whole number). The whole number is multiplied by 11. The result is subtracted from the result of the initial calculations (summation). The final difference is the check digit.

If the final number is 10, the check digit becomes 0. The standard doesn’t recommend the use of serial numbers which produce a final difference of 10.

Containers also have a sized and type code.The latter includes four elements:

  • the first character represents the length (2 for 20’’, 4 for 40’’, 3 for 30’’, for specific sizes a letter code is used);
  • the second character represents the width and the height;
  • the third and the fourth character indicate the type of the container.

The code for the length of the container is shown in the following table:

Character   Container length
mm ft
1 2,991 10
2 6,058 20
3 9,125 30
4 12,192 40
5-9 Spare
A 7,15  
B 7,315 24
C 7,43  
D 7,45 24,6
E 7,82  
F 8,1  
G 12,5 41
H 13,106 43
K 13,6  
L 13,716 45
M 14,63 48
N 14,935 49
P 16,154  

The code for the height and width of the container:

Width,m Character Container height Character for container width
mm ft > 2,438 m and <2,5 m > 2,5 m
2,438 0 2,438  8    
2,438  2,591  8’6  C
2,438  2,743  9  D
2,438  2,895 9’6  E
2,438  >2,895 >9’6   F
2,438   1,295 4’3     
2,438  <1,219 <4     

As the last two characters a group code can be used if the subgroup is not specified by the standard. The codes of container types are presented in the table.

General Code Group Code Type Type Code Characteristics









Unventilated general purpose container

G0 Openings at both ends
G1 Vents in upper part of cargo space
G2 Openings at one or both ends + full openings on one or both sides
G3 Openings at one or both ends + partial openings on one or both sides
G4-G9 Spare












General purpose container with ventilation

V0 Non-mechanical ventilation at the lower and upper parts of the cargo space
V1 Spare
V2 Mechanical ventilation installed in the container
V3 Spare
V4 Mechanical ventilation installed outside the container
V5-V9 Spare














Dry bulk containers, non-pressure resistant

B0 Closed
B1 Airtight
B2 Spare



Container for dry bulk cargo pressure control

B3 Horizontal discharge, test pressure 150kPa
B4 Horizontal discharge, test pressure 265kPa
B5 Tipping discharge, test pressure 150kPa
B6 Tipping discharge, test pressure 265kPa
  B7-B9 Spare









Named cargo containers

S0 Livestock container
S1 Automobile container
S2 Living fish container
S3-S9 Spare








Thermal containers (refrigerated, refrigerated and heated, self/externally powered)

R0 Mechanically refrigerated
RT R1 Mechanically refrigerated and heated
RS R2 Mechanically refrigerated, self-powered
  R3 Mechanically refrigerated and heated, self-powered
R4-R9 Undefined













Thermal container (refrigerated and/or heated with removable equipment)

H0 Refrigerated or heated with removable equipment located externally; heat transfer coefficient 0.4W/(m2*K)
H1 Refrigerated or heated with removable equipment located internally
H2 Refrigerated or heated with removable equipment located externally; heat transfer coefficient 0.7W/(m2*K)
H3-H4 Spare



H5 Insulated, heat transfer coefficient 0,4W/(m2*К)
H6 Insulated, heat transfer coefficient 0,7W/(м2*К)
H7-H9 Spare















Open-top container

U0 Openings at one or both ends
U1 Openings at one or both ends, removable roof
U2 Openings at one or both ends + openings on one or both sides
U3 Openings at one or both ends + openings on one or both sides + removable top members
U4 Openings at one or both ends + openings on one or both sides + full openings on one side
U5 Solid side and end walls (no doors)
U6-U9 Spare











Platform-container (with incomplete superstructure, removable walls, open and closed)

P0 Plain platform



P1 Platform with two complete, fixed end walls
P2 Platform with fixed posts and with removable top members



P3 Platform with folding complete end walls
P4 Platform with folding posts and with removable top members
PS P5 Platform open at the top and ends
  P6-P9  Spare









Tank container for non-dangerous liquids

T0 Minimum pressure 45 kPa
T1 Minimum pressure 150 kPa
T2 Minimum pressure 265 kPa



Tank container for dangerous liquids

T3 Minimum pressure 150 kPa
T4 Minimum pressure 265 kPa
T5 Minimum pressure 400 kPa
T6 Minimum pressure 600 kPa


Tank container for gasses

T7 Minimum pressure 910 kPa
T8 Minimum pressure 2200 kPa
T9 Minimum pressure to be assigned
 A  AS Air/surface container A0   

Optional mark includes country code, weight of the container, a symbol to denote containers for air freight transportation, a sign warning of overhead electrical danger, height of the container (for containers higher than 2.6m).

The country code consists of two capital letters of the Latin alphabet as stated in ISO 3166. The country implies the country of container registration, not the country of the owner or the shipping company that carries out the international transportations.

Protective packaging: its types and properties

Protective packaging: its types and properties

Packaging is defined as a technical means or a group Read More
Shipping glossary

Shipping glossary

Terms and abbreviations of international sea freight transportation. Read More
Cargo on pallets

Cargo on pallets

Useful information about the carriage of goods by sea, air Read More
Container marking

Container marking

Container marking A container is a reusable transport equipment designed Read More
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